Greetings from Hong Kong my fellow readers!
For the next 2.5 weeks I'll be hanging out in Hong Kong and Shanghai with my mom. I have some of the fondest and most memorable food experiences out here while, starting from the age of 12 up to my early twenties. Every summer and winter my mom would take me out here for 2 weeks to get in touch with my roots, meet relatives, family friends, and of course eat eat and eat. She introduced me to every local food you could possibly imagine that she grew up eating until she was an adult. And given that I have not traveled with my mom back to Asia, in so many years , I thought it would be nice for me to come out here on a mother daughter trip, eat our way through while seeing some familiar faces, just like the good old days. So stay tuned for a bunch of features I'll be posting during my trip of all the local eats that we grew to love over the years. Let's jump into my first post on eating breakfast like a true local.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it's actually one of my favorites. In Hong Kong, there is a plethora of options for breakfast, far more than most other cuisines. In the US, breakfast comprises of a mix between eggs, toast, oatmeal, sweets, coffee, tea..yogurts, meats...Every breakfast spot serves the same stuff but with their own version sometimes. Now step into the world of breakfast in Hong Kong. I could probably eat something completely different for breakfast the entire time I'm here without repeating a dish. Breakfast for locals here, can mean a hot piping bowl of congee and there are over 10-15 kinds of congee to choose from. Just walk down the streets in the morning and you'll stumble upon congee shops. While there are some super popular ones known to dish out some of the best congee, it's not really something I recommend taking a trek out to. Honestly, many of the congee shops in most neighborhoods dole out some solid congee. Plus most of these little shops don't even have english names so forget pulling out google maps. Just keep your eyes open and look into stalls and see what people are eating. Choose the packed ones, because that's usually good sign that their stuff is not only solid but also fresh. Like the one below that we hit up. This is the typical size and layout, maybe 5-6 little round tables, everyone shares. You pull up a stool and plop right down next to other customers and shout out an order. There's no english so either try and see if they understand english or just point to the bowl your neighbor has:) Heck point to whatever you see on the tables you think look interesting. It shouldn't run you more than $20 USD if you go to town and order 2-3 items in the less touristy spots.
When it comes to choosing Congee for locals who can read the menu;) they really do have quite a few options. In fact, I always have trouble choosing because I want all of them. I have a few favs myself: Preserved Egg Salt Pork Congee, Offal Congee (tender slices of kidney, liver), Fish Filet Congee Preserved Egg, Beef Cilantro Congee, or Squid, Porkballs, Fish Stomach, Peanut Congee..the list goes on. This morning I opted for the Fishbelly Congee. Think tuna belly when you eat sushi. They take the belly portion of a white fish which is super tender and fatty, poach it until it's so tender it falls apart if you pick it up with your chopsticks and plop those beauties in a bowl of delicious soothing congee flecked with pungent ginger and scallions. Add a few dashes of white pepper and you are in heaven. Can you see the large chunks of fishbelly in there?
Along with congee comes some sort of side dish that goes magically well with the congee. Usually it's some kind of fried chinese donut and they have different kinds, the long salty crunch kind which is the most common one. They cut it up and you dip it into soy or in your congee. They have ones that are shaped almost like a football and those are slightly sweet, also good for dipping into congee or pairing with congee. Then there is the salt fried donut, these round ones have a little sweetness and saltiness to it, less crunchy than the long ones, tastes more like bread, also used to dip into congee or soy. If you want something lighter, opt for the steamed rice roll. They ones rolled over the fried donut or just simple ones like the one I'm having flecked with dried shrimp and scallion. Dip it into some sesame sauce along with hot sauce and you are golden!
Our Chef manning the vat of congee.
So now that we've been briefed on Breakfast option 1: Congee..Stay tuned for my next feature on Breakfast option 2: HK Style Cafe Food
"I run a business by day, work the kitchen lines at night, switch into blogger mode by midnight and occasionally travel the world to hunt for inspiration" Kathy Fang is chef and co-owner of Fang, a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco offering a fresh take on dishes influenced by both Northern and Southern China’s cuisine. The daughter of famed House of Nanking chef/owner Peter Fang, Ms. Fang has emerged from her renowned culinary family to enliven San Francisco’s food scene with her own cuisine at Fang Restaurant located in the city’s South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood. She has contributed and appeared in numerous publications such as Wall Street Journal, Self Magazine, Men's Journal, SF Chronicle, Singtao Daily, Examiner, Munchies, and makes appearances on Food Network, CNN, and Travel Channel. She recently became a two time Chopped Champion.